Sony has successfully patented an AI-assisted “auto-play mode” that can imitate players as it plays through mundane tasks.

Sony has successfully patented a method for providing an AI-assisted "auto-play mode." This mode would take control of the game and complete tasks on behalf of the player.

Two Dualsense wireless controllers (Image via playstation.com)
Two Dualsense wireless controllers (Image via playstation.com)

How does Sony's auto-play work?

Firstly, Sony does not intend for auto-play to 100% games or beat difficult bosses. As they describe in their patent, Sony's intention is for the feature to be an option available to those who would rather not play through "grinding content."

Repetitive in-game activities such as resource gathering, leveling up, and even traveling are what Sony's new auto-play mode aims to spare gamers from.

Taking things one step further, Sony states that the new mode will use user data to simulate the playstyle of the user as it completes its tasks. Everyone's auto-play mode should be tailored to them and, somewhat ironically, behave as if the player were in control.

Once Sony's auto-play mode completes its assigned content, it'll prompt the player to re-engage control of the game. The player then has the option to jump back into the action or allow auto-play to continue progressing through the game.

Community opinions on auto-play

A large Reddit thread on r/gaming reveals a mixed bag of opinions regarding Sony's auto-play patent.

The hopeful

Some folk seem eager to use Sony's auto-play mode to skip content that they deem necessarily boring and repetitive. It's pointed out that the same content, such as farming, can be relaxing or tedious depending on a person's mood. Several people observed that similar auto-battling systems already exist in many mobile games centered around grinding or idling.

A couple of users are optimistic for MMO developers to use the technology to create more fully fleshed-out NPCs. The possibility of NPCs that behave as humans do could greatly enhance the sense of immersion in a game's environment.

The cynical

Unfortunately, the majority of opinions surrounding Sony's auto-play feature lean to the negative side. The most common snarky remark by commenters is that there is no point in buying a game you won't play yourself. Others sarcastically question why developers don't simply take the monotonous content out of games if players are going to rely on AI-assisted tools to bypass it.

Some think that a fully-developed auto-play mode is unnecessary and fear a future where nobody actually plays the games they paid for. In the very worst-case scenario, developers could increase the amount of grinding content in games as an opportunity to sell a monetized auto-play function.

Will Sony's auto-play release soon?

As of this moment, Sony has not made any public announcement regarding auto-play. Their intentions to develop and implement such a feature are yet to be seen.

This patent may merely be a playfully pitched idea that they don't want anyone else to steal. However, it's also possible that MMORPG players will soon be grinding content together without lifting a single finger.

Only time will tell.

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